the best way to spread Christmas cheer…

I always thought it was really cool that Jesus’ mother was a young teenager when she was asked to birth the Savior of the world. Just more proof that Jesus likes to do things backwards from the world. I feel like a lot of times there is a negative view of teenagers. One of my passions is changing that view, even if it’s only a few people.

There’s not a ton of Christmas spirit around here, at least not like there used to be. With the base closing, things are dying down, and events are smaller or nonexistent, decorations scarce, and it’s just not the same spending the holidays this far away from family, which many people do. Off post, the Christmas market saves our sanity, but in general, Christmas is kind of not as big of a deal.

One of my volunteers came up with the idea to go Christmas caroling this year, something we have never done in Bamberg so I wasn’t sure how many would show up last night (our kids don’t exactly adore singing), and neither was she. THIRTEEN students showed up to sing in public, in the FREEZING cold, for over an hour (some claimed they were only there for the hot chocolate…of course).

Our first stop was at the MP (Military Police) Station. As we walked in, the MPs started coming out from behind the glass, and one who was a friend of mine saw me and then looked relieved as he said, “Dang, we saw you guys on the video and we thought it was like the zombie apocalypse or something.” They took pictures as we sang.

The next stop was the Shoppette gas station, and there weren’t many people in there. Someone was checking out in the line but kept his head down while we sang. The German lady who works the register, though, stopped was she was doing and turned around to watch us with the biggest grin on her face and tears in her eyes.

We went to various houses and apartments of families our students knew on post…even though the occupied houses are now very few and far between! Little kids pressed their noses to the window, they came out on the porch to listen, and many looked surprised but pleasantly so. One guy even offered us money afterwards, even though we yelled that it was a gift about 50 times. I think it can be hard to accept gifts you’re not expecting or not used to.

We sang outside the Command Sergeant Major’s house (2nd in command of the entire post), and he came out in his PT clothes and socks and he and his wife shook every single kid’s hand.

As we walked back to chapel, I was behind one of my leaders and 2 of his guys that he was talking to. This leader almost wasn’t able to come to camp with us here in a few weeks, because he didn’t think he could get leave. Well, he got it and I found out yesterday! I teared up walking behind them, because not much gets me in the feels like seeing my leaders care for “the least of these,” the teenagers, the ones you only hear about in the context of a school shooting or the “knockout” game in the news. When in fact I know and we know that they are instead the kinds of people God chooses to further his kingdom, like he chose Mary. He chose these kids to brighten so many familys’ Christmases this year just in an hour.

We came back to chapel, had hot chocolate, and hung out with Sarah and Rachel for the last time because in just a few hours they would be on a bus to Ramstein to catch a flight back to the states. It was a bittersweet night with a lot of tears at the end, but I was feeling the Christmas spirit anyway.

I came home to discover that a friend of mine from my church in Delaware had gifted me her car. I don’t even have words right now to describe how grateful I am for everyone’s prayers and for the way God has answered them. He truly provides. Over and over and over again. He’s confirming that Georgia is where I’m supposed to be, and He’s showing me the blessings of having been here for 3 years, even through all the struggles.

My heart is full.

 

Frohe Weihnachten!

Some things I loved about my German Christmas:

The woodstove:

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Putting together stars:

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Family piano playing:

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The confusion that ensues when you mistranslate baking soda to baking powder, then have to Google what is equal to baking soda in German, then have to find it in the kitchen after momma has already gone to bed:

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Real vanilla:

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Providing the egg nog from the base commissary:

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A gloriously successful cross-cultural attempt at baking American cookies in a German kitchen:

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Going to a Big Band Christmas concert…

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…with a Santa from America

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The outdoor Christmas tree tied to the roof:

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Learning how to play “Stille Nacht” on the…wait for it…accordion:

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The children’s choir singing to Jesus in German:Image

Going to church in the industrial area of Wurzburg:

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The gifts on Christmas Eve:

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Scarves:

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Exchanging culturally unique gifts:

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Playing with die Katze:

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Tacky singing Christmas ties:

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Christmas dinner, with duck, sauerkraut, potato dumplings, etc.:

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An incredibly comfy bed where lots of sleeping and napping and movie watching happened:

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An unusually warm and sunny week:

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Hiking up to this castle tower with lights around it to make it look like a candle:

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Playing Carcassonne (and Rummikub):

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Taking the ::cat:: for a walk in the rain:

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